A Beginner’s Guide to Blackjack

Croupier Dealing Cards In Casino

Do you want to start playing blackjack but don’t know where to begin? Look no further as this guide will give you everything you need to start playing the casino classic. 

History of Blackjack

Blackjack, or Twenty-One, or Pontoon, is a staple casino game played around the world. Being so popular it naturally goes by many names. It’s a simple game played with a standard deck of 52 cards (however, it has become popular for casinos to use multiple decks of cards simultaneously, most popular being the six deck variant). It’s simplicity and the speed at which it can be played has helped blackjack sustain its popularity after over 400 years of play (you read that right).

Although heavily debated, historians agree that blackjack likely originated in French Casinos in the early 1700s. The French cards back then were called “Vingt-et-Un” which translates to Twenty One. These playing cards were likely derived from ‘Chemin de Fer’ a form of baccarat which was hugely popular at that time.

Blackjack Today

If you were to walk into any reputable casino you’re likely to see blackjack tables as its one of the most popular attractions. It’s the same with online casinos, you’re likely to come across multiple blackjack games on offer.

When played in a casino, the house always deals, with the croupier (dealer) standing and players sitting down. When played with multiple decks it’s common for croupiers to use a Blackjack Shoe, so they don’t have to hold the stack of cards themselves. There is also a blank plastic card that is inserted towards the bottom of the decks to tell the croupier when it is time to reshuffle the decks.

How to Play Blackjack

The game is simple, your hand has to beat the croupier’s hand by getting as close to 21 as possible, without going over (busting). You place your wager before the cards are dealt and there are usually minimum and maximum limits on these bets, depending on the casino or game. The card values are:

  • Ace (1 or 11)*
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8
  • 9
  • 10
  • Jack (10)
  • Queen (10)
  • King (10)

*Ace can be high and/or low. Make sure to check the casino or individuals games rules as some casinos may only play with Ace being high (11).

Each player is dealt two cards facing up while the dealer is dealt two cards with one facing down. After being dealt your cards you have 4 options: hit, stick (stand), double down or split. 

  • Hit – You are dealt another card, this can be done multiple times.
  • Stick (or Stand) – You are not dealt any other cards and the cards you have will be your final hand.
  • Double Down – You double your wager and are dealt only one card.
  • Split – This can only be done if you are dealt a pair, the pair is split and you place a wager on the other card and begin to essentially play two hands.

Once each player has chosen to either stick (stand), or bust, the croupier then deals the house’s hand, which has to beat each player’s hand without busting themselves. However, casinos usually have rules in place in which the house must stand on 16, 17, 18, 19, etc. which helps players in some sense.

Players can also draw with the house’s hand, this is called a push. In the case of a push, the wager is returned to the player. 

Payouts in terms of blackjack are usually 1/1 meaning if you place £5 on one hand and beat the dealer you will return £10 (£5 win and £5 stake returned). However if you flop blackjack (21)  in your opening two cards, you usually will receive a 3/2 payout. For example, you place a £5 bet and you flop Ace and Jack you will be paid out £12.50 (£7.50 win and £5 stake returned). Blackjack, or a ‘Natural’ is when a player flops an ace and a picture card (or 10) in their first two cards.

Online Blackjack

Playing blackjack online can be extremely fun. There are many great online casinos that offer blackjack to customers, read some of our online casino reviews to the best welcome bonuses to give you more to play with. 

Responsible Gambling

When gambling online it’s important to always gamble responsibly, set deposit limits where possible so you’re not going over what you want to play with. Deposit limits are a great way to stay in control of your spending.

Blackjack can be a fantastic game to play, it’s a casino staple and has stood the test of time. We hope this guide has given you a better idea of what exactly blackjack is and how to play this timeless classic.

Now you’re all set, why not go and play a few hands with one of the many great casinos we’ve reviewed? Good luck!